Investing

Over $8 Billion in New Stock Buyback Plans (RL, APEI, DTV, EMN, SWKS, WBMD, ATML, GD, OC, PCL, AUTC, DISCA, FMCN, CVLT, WRB, WMS, VRSN)

2010 has been called the year of dividend by us, but it seems that share buybacks in earnings season are still alive and well.  Of the buybacks we have tracked in various earnings releases or new authorizations this week, we found more than $8 billion had been earmarked for buybacks.  That does not even include some smaller plans.

The big buybacks we tracker were as follows, mostly from more recent to earlier in the week:  Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. (NYSE: RL), American Public Education, Inc. (NASDAQ: APEI), DIRECTV (NASDAQ: DTV), Eastman Chemical Co. (NYSE: EMN), Skyworks Solutions Inc. (NASDAQ: SWKS), WebMD Health Corp. (NASDAQ: WBMD), Atmel Corporation (NASDAQ: ATML), General Dynamics Corp. (NYSE: GD), Owens Corning (NYSE: OC), Plum Creek Timber Co. Inc. (NYSE: PCL), AutoChina International Ltd. (NASDAQ: AUTC), Discovery Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: DISCA), Focus Media Holding Limited (NASDAQ: FMCN), CommVault Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: CVLT), W. R. Berkley Corporation (NYSE: WRB), WMS Industries Inc. (NYSE: WMS), and VeriSign, Inc. (NASDAQ: VRSN).

There are some of these that were new plans.  Some were in addition to existing plans.  Some appear to have been voted on earlier and were included in earnings announcements.  We have a few of the standout plan announcements listed out below, and then we have a table showing the big plans and the total amount.

American Public Education (NASDAQ: APEI) got crushed after earnings and the amount thrown forward into a buyback may seem insignificant to a market cap north of $550 million.  It announced that its Board of Directors has authorized a program to repurchase up to $20 million worth of shares of common stock.

Polo Ralph Lauren (NYSE: RL): “The program permits the Company to repurchase $250 million of its shares of Class A Common Stock, subject to market conditions. This amount is in addition to the $319 million available at the end of the first quarter of Fiscal 2011 as part of previously authorized stock repurchase programs, bringing the Company’s total current authorizations to $569 million.”

VeriSign Inc. (NASDAQ: VRSN) was included in the earnings report and the company said the Board approved it last week: “the Board of Directors approved an additional authorization for share repurchases of approximately $1.1 billion, which brings the total amount authorized and remaining under the plan to $1.5 billion.”

DIRECTV (NASDAQ: DTV) repurchased $1.72 Billion of company stock in the second quarter and its Board approved an additional $2.0 Billion stock repurchase program.

Discovery Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: DISCA) said its board of directors has approved a stock repurchase program and is authorized to purchase up to $1 billion of its common stock.

General Dynamics (NYSE: GD) authorized management to repurchase up to 10 million shares of the issued and outstanding common stock on the open market, which comes to roughly $635 million in today’s price.

Company Buyback
Ralph Lauren (RL) $569,000,000
American Public Education (APEI) $20,000,000
DIRECTV (DTV) $2,000,000,000
Eastman Chemical (EMN) $300,000,000
Skyworks Solutions (SWKS) $200,000,000
WebMD Health Corp. (WBMD) $150,000,000
Atmel Corporation (ATML) $200,000,000
General Dynamics (GD) $635,000,000
Owens Corning (OC) $285,000,000
Plum Creek Timber Co. (PCL) $200,000,000
AutoChina International Ltd. (AUTC) $55,000,000
Discovery Communications Inc (DISCA) $1,000,000,000
Focus Media Holding Limited (FMCN) $300,000,000
CommVault Systems (CVLT) $66,900,000
W. R. Berkley Corporation (WRB) $260,000,000
WMS Industries Inc. (WMS) $300,000,000
VeriSign, Inc. (VRSN) $1,500,000,000
TOTAL BUYBACK DOLLARS $8,040,900,000

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JON C. OGG